Fort Mill Times

Wal-Mart full steam ahead in Indian Land

INDIAN LAND -- It's been quiet on Hwy. 521 at the spot where a Wal-Mart SuperCenter is planned for construction. But officials say don't be fooled because behind the scenes, plans for the big box retailer are starting to come together.

Chris Neeley, Wal-Mart's public affairs manager for the Carolinas area, said the project is in the final phases of design and permitting. A final decision on the project's schedule is expected to be made by the end of the year, he added.

"We're definitely moving forward," Neeley said.

Indian Land residents have been waiting for Wal-Mart to arrive in the Panhandle since January 2006, when the Fort Mill Times broke the news that Wal-Mart was eyeing a site on Hwy. 521 near the state line.

Neeley said he isn't sure why the project has taken so long.

"Sometimes when it comes to design and getting all the permits and final project designs, all the contractors lined up, all that stuff just takes a lot of time and obviously we want to do it right," Neeley said.

Design plans for a new Wal-Mart can be time consuming, Neeley said. Architects have to plan for roadways in and out of the store's parking lot, and the S.C. Department of Transportation also has to be consulted on any road designs, he added.

New architectural de-signs are often created for Wal-Mart, Neeley added. At the Wal-Mart in Tega Cay, a "Main Street style" façade with colorful stucco and brick gave the Wal-Mart a less industrial look.

"It's not a cookie-cutter approach," Neeley said.

While things are moving forward, construction of the Indian Land Wal-Mart is still more than a year away.